N150bn unused grant cripples non-oil sector



The backlog of unutilised Export Expansion Grant (EEG) of the Federal Government amounting to over N150bn has crippled the operations of exporters in the non-oil sector, the Organised Private Sector Exporters’ Association has said.

According to the association, the $2bn growth recorded in the country’s non-oil exports from 2006 to 2013 is being hampered by inconsistency in implementing the Federal Government’s policy on non-oil exportation.

The Executive Secretary, OPEXA, Jaiyeola Olarewaju, explained that the extant policy on the EEG and the utilisation of the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates had been put on hold; a development that he said had impacted negatively on the activities of non-oil exporters in Nigeria.

The Federal Government introduced the EEG in 1999 to encourage non-oil exports and cushion the effect of cost disadvantages faced by Nigerian exporters due to infrastructural deficiencies.

The grant was disbursed in the form of the NDCC and was utilised by beneficiaries for the payment of customs and excise duty on their export shipments.

The scheme was, however, suspended in January 2014 for it to be reviewed.

But OPEXA, in a statement issued in Abuja, decried the suspension of the grant and stressed that it was convinced that the only way out for Nigeria to disentangle itself from the shackles of mono-economy was for the government to diversify the country’s export sector.

Olarewaju said, “This (suspension) is having a negative effect on the non-oil sector in particular and the economy in general. Huge backlog of unutilised NDCCs amounting to over N150bn for over two years has paralysed the operations of exporters.

“After the (former) Minister of Finance placed an embargo on the utilisation of the NDCC as from January 2014, there had been a huge backlog of unutilised NDCCs running into tens of billions of naira. Of this backlog, only about N5bn was approved for utilisation. The backlog of unutilised NDCCs at the end of 2013 was about N150bn. Further to this, there was a huge backlog of the NDCCs yet to be processed as of January 2014 when the embargo was placed.”

He urged the government to instruct the Nigeria Customs Service to accept the utilisation of the NDCCs for duty payment as per the extant policy, adding that the Federal Ministry of Finance should treat the backlog in a time-bound manner.

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